Sunday, August 7, 2016

2016: the Year of Rigged Elections

One of the most disquieting aspects of 2016 has been the rise of an illiberal strain in our politics.

This has been certainly in the rise of Trump but also for some on the Bernie or Bust Left. Note, most Bernie supporters are not Bernie or Bust.

But we see again as the 20th century showed, that often the Left and Right are mirror images of each other. They often seem to agree more with each other: that the Center Left is the real enemy.

Ryan Cooper:

"The speakers at the DSA meeting evinced a deft and realistic understanding of these facts. "I am in the Democratic Party because that is where the power is," said Rahel Biru, a co-chair of the Brooklyn DSA chapter. "We don't want to make the classic mistake, in which we think liberals are our enemy. They're not our friends...[but] they are not the main danger," said Bob Master, legislative director for the Communication Workers of America and co-chair of the New York WFP. That danger is Donald Trump, of course."

Josh Marshall:

"Classic obscurantist sectarian left idea. Destroy center left coalition and suddenly we'll be in power!!"

It is disgraceful that some of the Dead Enders started chanting 'Lock her up' a la Trump and his convention.

And they were the ones who started with the whole baseless claim that the primary was 'rigged.' No evidence was provided-the DNC leak had no evidence of it.

Now Trump very cynically and opportunistically has tried to catch the Berner's lightning in a bottle.

He is suggesting that unless he wins, then it simply has to have been 'rigged'-he doesn't worry about explaining how.

Yes, this has been the year sore loser politics.

"After a week in which Donald Trump insulted babies and their mothers and war heroes and their families, and threw in fire marshals for good measure, the scariest thing to come out of his team of thugs and political mercenaries is this: the suggestion that civil unrest could follow if he’s denied the presidency."

"When the Supreme Court handed George W. Bush the White House in 2000 even though he lost the popular vote, Al Gore graciously conceded and faded away. When Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama four years ago although his internal polls showed a Republican triumph, he congratulated the winner and went off to rediscover his many grandchildren."

"Despite party-machine manipulation and considerable voting of the dead, the American institution that produces a peaceful transfer of power has survived."

"But this year, facing a likely trouncing in November, Trump has signaled that he will try to bring down our democracy with him. His overlooked comment — “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged” — is the opening move in a scheme to delegitimize the outcome."

For those who think Trump won't weaken democracy if he wins, bare in mind he may weaken it even if he loses. After all, it's a very important norm where the loser agrees the result was legitimate-unless there is real evidence to the contrary.

Arguably, Al Gore had this evidence in 2000 and still put the good of the country above himself.

"If Mr. Trump refused to accept a legitimate loss in November, it would breach yet another norm of established conduct for a presidential candidate."

"The threat that he would do so is real. In 2012, Mr. Trump questionedBarack Obama’s defeat of Mitt Romney. “He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!” he wrote on Twitter, adding: “We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!” (Mr. Obama did in fact win the popular vote.)

"If Trump protested the results of the election in this way after losing in November, he could exploit a potentially destructive strain in the electorate that would undermine public confidence in elections."

"The problem is that people understandably become more distrustful of the political system when their preferred candidate loses. In recent elections, the political scientists Michael Sances and Charles Stewart III estimate that the probability of Americans being very confident in the national vote count declined by an average of approximately 30 percentage points among those who voted for the loser."

"Losing partisans are also receptive to claims about election theft and vote fraud. For instance, baseless conspiracy theories circulated widely among Democratic activists that George W. Bush defeated John Kerry in 2004 using election fraud in Ohio. Similarly, some Republicans falsely blamed widespread voter fraud for Mr. Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012."

Again, I do think with 2000 there is a legitimate question. Though, while Gore agreed, he didn't think it was worth delegitimizing the system. Trump who will have no basis to question the results won't show this restraint.

After all, as Brendan Nyhan points out, Trump did make the same claim about Romney, 2012. So you could have a significant subset of Trumpsters insisting after he loses that there was voter fraud and he really won.

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